The London Author Fair ‘14: Roundup

Writers, Agents, Industry Experts

london author fair 2014

Discoverability and Connecting with Readers seminar, chaired by Porter Anderson with Gareth Howard and Patrick Brown

In case it escaped your notice the London Author Fair aka LAF14 was hosted at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden last Friday 28th February. In fact the LAF14 came as the first in a series of International Author Fairs that aim to bring together both contract and indie writers around publishing industry experts.

The impressive cast of experts featured representatives from Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Blurb and Goodreads, as well as a plethora of agents, not to mention the team at Authoright, who organized the event.

The absence of the major publishing houses was a disappointment although it left few surprised as to just how far away they have moved from the grassroots of their profession, i.e. writers.

Editing To Discoverability

The red line throughout was the insistence of the need to professionalize indie publishing. 8 seminars chaired by Porter Anderson and 18 workshops provided plenty of learning and informative substance from how to edit your book to marketing and discoverability.

laf14 workshop view

Arriving at Ben Galley’s Social Media workshop

The workshops for me constituted a less daunting place to exchange with people like Patrick Brown, Director of Author Marketing at Goodreads, as well as successful indie authors who were generous and eager to share their know-how.

On the discoverability side, I appreciated Patrick Brown’s tips for the Goodreads platform. One was about self-reviewing. He advised authors to go ahead and mark their own work. But instead of appraising it he suggested giving extra information such as what urged you to write your book.

In this way, you will be seen as adding value for the reader and not perceived as just blowing your own trumpet. Of course you will give your book 5 stars, after all, if you don’t utterly believe in it, who else will?

I asked Patrick about trolling on Goodreads. You know, those faceless profiles that give your book 1 star for no reason at all. To find out more about this discussion read my post on indieBRAG.

Sorting The Good From The Bad

It was often inferred that there is a lot of junk being published and the task for both reader and writer is how to separate the slag from gold. Let’s face it, Amazon would publish your aunt Maisy’s naughty memoires and rambling rose collection back to back if they could make a buck or two.

Truth is, the biggest flaw with Amazon is their total lack of quality control of content, even the worst books can miraculously get 5 stars whereas a quality novel whose genitor is the sole surviving member of his family might just get 2. To my mind, that’s just not fair, so I was surprised that there was no talk at the fair about book approval sites such as indieBRAG whose seal of excellence is fast becoming an indie standard which readers can trust. Indeed, 90% of submissions don’t make the grade.


Attendees were entitled to pitch to one of the agents in the PitchUp! event organized by LitFactor, a sister company of Authoright. You had to get in your request early, though, as places were limited. That said, it was also possible to gently accost agents between QA sessions and during the end-of-day drinks.

I was one of the lucky ones. However, I was so concentrated on my one pitch and then the workshops going on that I didn’t think to make contact with any of the other agents. Shame on me, promise me you won’t make the same mistake and my writer’s soul will be absolved. It will be worth the practice because even if you wish to remain independent you might still need an agent to give you professional guidance as well as to help with the promotion side of things.

On the whole it was a remarkable initiative by Authoright whose next International author fair in the series will take place in New York this autumn. So keep your eyes peeled for the exact date, won’t you?

writers unite

Did you go to the London Author Fair this year? If so, what did you come away with?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *